What if the Casey Anthony jury hadn't been sequestered?
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What if the Casey Anthony jury
hadn't been sequestered?
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ASK THIS | November 27, 2011
The court of public opinion, shaped by
sensational, damning press accounts, found
this young Florida woman to be a horrid
person, guilty as charged in her two-yearold daughter’s death. The jury, sequestered and not subject to the vicious coverage,
acquitted her. Writer Keith Long thinks the
jury got it right, and says justice was done
despite the media’s accounts.
Anthony and her main lawyer, Jose Baez. (AP)
By Keith Long
The recent murder trial of Casey Anthony in Orlando exposed much of the American news media in circus mode. Accounts from the start portrayed her as an unsympathetic, horrid, guilty figure, and often were gleeful in doing so. Major broadcast and cable news networks offered Iphone Apps just for the trial. YouTube videos exploded, often replaying news feeds. The day in July that a not-guilty verdict was announced, ABC news reported, “Public Irate Over Casey Anthony Verdict; Social Media Sites Explode With Opinions.” The public outcry, and indeed there was one, was based on poor, selective reporting by the news media. As a forensic psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. Carole Lieberman, put it, “The reason that people are reacting so strongly is that the media convicted Casey before the jury reached a verdict.” During the three years from the child’s death to the verdict all of America was exposed to a continuum of reporting and opinion that not only expected Casey would be found guilty, but, almost routinely in its coverage, presumed her guilt. CBS News at the start of the trial reported that Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi, said, “The case is overwhelming. No one else in the world could have done this except Casey Anthony.” In the middle of the trial after the prosecution rested, Time Magazine reported, “Virtually no one doubts that Anthony was involved in her child’s death,” then adding, “but if you see murder in Casey Anthony’s big brown eyes during a live feed of her trial, you can tell all the world how delectable you will find her execution.” The Orlando Sun Sentinel added its perspective in an Op-Ed, “The defense may sound a bit off the wall, but hey, the jury somehow believed O.J. Simpson too.”
My review of the case shows that in the Casey Anthony trial justice was done not because of American journalism but in spite of it. Defense arguments were consistently diminished, discounted or disputed in the media. I could not find a single press account supporting the innocence of the defendant. Reporters and camera people were bullying as well as prejudiced; it may be concern over their aggressiveness that led the trial judge to withhold the jurors’ names for months after the trial and that has led Casey Anthony to stay in hiding despite her acquittal and release. Who wouldn’t want to hide in the face of accounts like this one in the Chicago Tribune that stated, “Just when you think Casey Anthony can’t possibly nauseate you anymore than she has already, try this: She wants more children.”
Currently, Anthony is on probation at an undisclosed location in Florida in connection with check fraud charges, and is required to stay in the state for one year.
Here are questions at the outset for anyone going over the press performance and the case itself: Q. If Casey did not murder Caylee, how did she die?
Q. How did it happen that two-year-old Caylee could be found in the woods just blocks from the Anthony home?
Q. Why did Casey write bad checks and go partying, pictured dancing and...
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